July 1209: in Carcassonne a young girl is given a mysterious book by her father which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although Alais cannot understand the strange words and symbols hidden within, she knows that her destiny lies in protecting it. It will take great sacrifice and faith to keep the secret of the labyrinth safe, a secret that stretches back thousands of years to the deserts of Ancient Egypt.
July 2005: Alice Tanner stumbles upon two skeletons during an archaeological dig in the mountains outside Carcassonne. Inside the hidden tomb where the bones lie crumbling, she experiences an overwhelming sense of malevolence, as well as a creeping understanding that, however impossible it seems, she can somehow understand the mysterious ancient words carved into the rock. Too late, Alice realises she's set in motion a terrifying sequence of events that she cannot control and that her destiny is inextricably tied up with the fate of the Cathars 800 years before.
©2005 Mosse Associates Ltd.; (P)2005 Orion Publishing Group Ltd.
"A gripping holy grail quest....The story line runs on knowledge and fun, Carcassonne never looked so good." (Sunday Times)
"An average summer read"
I too found this book to be sorely overrated. As has been previously stated it is following in the fad for novels about 'the holy grail' and the repucussions through the ages. To be far its better than most and if you take it for what it is it can be entertaining. The characters are quite 2D and as a woman myself I can see the point previously made about it being aimed at women. It panders and patronizes and instead of identifing with Alice/Alais I just thought she was a waste of space and very feeble.
And yet whilst the plot is a little exhaustive and overblown in some areas it does offer lots of intrigue and keeps you going. Plus the narrators are the best thing about this book. As people will know from my other reviews I think Emilia Fox is fantastic and teaming up with Anton Lesser here makes it much more exciting and intriguing.
Anyone who wants an intense novel with twists and turns but still typical enough to guess whats going to happen then this is the book for you.
"No wonder there is another audiobook edition now"
The book is as expected not a great novel, but it is difficult to tell with this abridged version. What was very difficult to deal with was the awful pair of readers. If had not paid for this book I would have stopped listening after the first chapter. I suspect the unabridged version will be an improvement on content and audio character.
"A Glimpse into Medieval Pays D'Oc"
The story was interesting, with its links between past and present. The brief insight into the world of the Cathars and their alternative religion was fascinating. The one aspect I found difficult was the appalling French accent used on occasions. I felt as though I had been transported to the set of 'Allo Allo'. Generally speaking, if an accent isn't going to sound authentic, it's probably best not to attempt it at all.
Otherwise, very enjoyable.
"Time travel in France"
I bought this book because I am visiting Carcassonne in April and wanted to get a flavour of the history of the place before I go. This book gave me a reasonable impression of the bloody battles that occurred in the name of religion and I liked the link between the present day and the past. I did however, get very annoyed with the ancient "french" accent employed by the narrator and was irritated by the far-fetched ending of the novel. The BBC aired a TV dramatisation of the book over Easter and I found myself watching this to see how closely it related to the book and to see if they made a better job of the ending, which, in my opinion, they didn't!
I don't know what it was about this book.I managed about an hour of the story before giving up.It just did not grab my interest at all.
This is just utter garbage. Stilted clunky story, dreadful reading, appalling abridgement. I have tried & tried to stick with it but tonight I've given up. Waste of time and money.
This book has been reviewed to death all over the uk and is on sale all over the French city of Carcassonne, where the book is based. I downloaded the unabridged audio book from Audible and I am pleased I did. I found the paperback a little difficult to read as I do not know any French. This audio recording was easy listening, although at times the reader sounds like she is in a cavern. The pace was slow to begin, but once we are introduced to all the characters, the pace picks up and I found myself sitting in my car a little longer just to hear the end of a chapter.
A lot of the reviews on this site are justified, but I believe it is well worth downloading.
Without being in any way disrespectful, this is a story that will appeal more to women (the main character is female).
The storyline jumps to and from the present day to the early 13th century.
The historical aspects and characters are pretty good but the modern day characters are not so good and the narration is below par with some very poor accents.
Like many things that become best sellers, I would guess that this is a result of good marketing and a piggy back effect on to the insatiable appetite for anything holy grailish. Additionally it has appeal to all of us who like to travel to France and especially the South West. I was probably a little drawn in as I have been to Carcassonne and really liked it.
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